Superman: The Unauthorized Biography
Glen Weldon (Author)
A celebration of Superman's life and history - in time for his 75th birthday. How has the Big Blue Boy Scout stayed so popular for so long? How has he changed with the times, and what essential aspects of him have remained constant? This fascinating biography examines Superman as a cultural phenomenon through 75 years of action-packed adventures, from his early years as a social activist in circus tights to his growth into the internationally renowned demigod he is today.
Hardcover: 352 pages
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Cover date: January 2003
Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Doug Mahnke, Yvel Guichet, Darryl Banks, and Dietrich Smith
Inker: Tom Nguyen, Mark Propst, Wayne Faucher, and Sean Parsons
"Tragic Kingdom" (The Obsidian Age - Conclusion)
Reviewed by: John-Paul Zito (ZitoMan11@aol.com)
Gamemnea knew of Arthur's friends and how they would some day come looking for him. A great league of heroes know as the JLA. So Gamemnea formed her own league of violent savage warriors to combate the JLA when they arrived. The Ancient League made short work of the JLA and killed them all. But thanks to an ancient shaman who sensed evil in the Ancient League's ranks, the JLA's souls were saved in the heart and cosmic ring of the Green Lantern.
The the JLA apparently disposed of, Gamemnea turned on her own league and absorbed each of them into her so that she could feed on their power and their souls. 3000 years ago Gamemnea was well on her way to conquering the world.
In the present day all of earth's water is vanishing, a wobble in the earth's rotation is causing all water to be drained towards the resurfaced Atlantis. All the world is parched and burning and the only people who can save them are trapped on Atlantis pinned down by the powerful demon Gamemnea of present day. A new JLA that was assembled to protect the world when the first JLA vanished, have just discovered the Shaman and the ghost of Green Lantern in a cave. The Shaman explains that Gamemnea's power stems from Atlantis. When she raised Atlantis she became soul bound to the island. If Atlantis sinks, so then will Gamemnea. Nightwing, Zatanna, Hawk Girl, and Firestorm travel back in time using the Shaman's life line as a road to follow. They plan to go back and contact Arthur, they will not sink Atlantis without his permission.
Outside the cave Gamemnea is confident in her near complete domination of Earth. Just then she smells something, filthy savage magic! The 3000 year old remains of the JLA rise from the ground rejuvenated by their now free souls and attack the evil Gamemnea. Her powers have no effect on the JLA since they are already dead, they hand her a pounding she'll never forget.
Nightwing, Zatanna, Hawk Girl and Firestorm arrive in the past where even then Gamemnea is battling the Shaman in a magical dual. Zatanna confers with the past Shaman and he reveals that the water isn't Arthur's prison, his isolation from the sea is! Firestorm leaps into action and carves a trench between the wading pool and the ocean. Gamemnea senses their actions and attempts to kill the Shaman but Tezumack leaps in front of her energy blast and sacrifices his own life. Arthur joins with the sea and takes charge of the world's oceans. Arhtur is infuriated, Nightwing explains what has happened, and that Atlantis must sink to save the world. With a heavy heart Arthur floods the ancient city so that they may repent for their sins.
In the present the JLA, new and dead, give Gamemnea everything they've got. The Martian Manhunter sneaks up behind her and mentally contacts Jason Blood, whom she absorbed into herself, and instructs him to release the demon Etrigan so that he may join the battle. Etrigan burst forth from Gamemnea and the loss of his power weakens her. Losing her ground against the dead JLA Gamemnea does the only thing she can to get rid of them, she brings them back to life! Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Martian Manhunter are all reborn, but Green Lantern is not so lucky. In order to keep the JLA's souls safe he has to sacrifice his own life for them. Etrigan and Faith keep Gamemnea off balance while the Atom shrinks down to a sub-molecular size and enters into her. When he emerges he's managed to bring Major Disaster and Tempest with him. The JLA remobilize and try to regain their barings after having been in a dormant state for 3000 years. The Shaman runs interference and with the ancient words "Inukchuk" he rises to giant heights and battles the demon Gamemnea hand to hand. A magic spell cast on Wonder Woman's lasso allows her, Superman, and J'onn to tether it to the Earth so that they can pull it and adjust the planet's wobble and halt the draining on the Earth's oceans.
Meanwhile at the North Pole the Flash stands ready absorbing all the excess kinetic energy the planet is creating while it moves, if he fails to do so the planet will break apart under its own pressure. In a final effort to destroy Gamemnea the Shaman forces her back through a portal Zatanna has opened from the past to evacuate all the time displaced Atlantans to the future. The portal destroys both Gamemnea and the Shaman. That last sacrifice allows for Green Lantern to be reborn along with his comrades. With Green Lantern's help the earth is set back on the right axis.
3000 years in the past Arthur destroys the giant pillars that hold Atlantis afloat. All the displaced Atlantans return home along with Arthur, Nightwing, Hawk Girl, Firestorm, Zatanna, the Shaman and his wife. Gamemnea dies as Atlantis sinks, without her magic there is nothing to keep her alive.
Back in the present the world's water supply is returned to normal and the King and his Kingdom are back where they belong. But the rejoicing is short lived. Arthur has cursed his people and had damned them to years of slavery despite his best intentions. There must be a reckoning.
Story - 4: I'm very, very torn here. On one hand this is an insanely cool time trippy adventure that is actually pretty clear cut. A lot of time travel stories are muddled with back and forth semantics and it just gets too confusing to care. Obsidian Age does not suffer from such flaws.
My major bones, however, is that the whole JLA dies and come back to life. Sort of. And we've seen this before in several individual cases. Their deathes are explained away as their souls lying dormant for 3000 years waiting for the opportunity to rise again, but still 3000 years is a long time. Such a wait would be enough to drive any one of them insane, or having been exposed to something greater then themselves they will walk away from this experience changed or shaken to the core. I fear that we will never see such ramifications though. I am glad to see ramifications brought against Arthur. Atleast someone will walk away from the Obsidian Age a bit changed.
The only ancient league member to survive, the Shaman, was a delight to see in action this issue. I was esspecially entertained to see the "Inukchuk" refrence to Super Friends. Now that it appears that he is joining the League I'll be intrested to see how he and Lantern interact since the Shaman was the source of his nightmares for so long.
Kelly's work on the JLA has been punctuated with a great deal more character interaction then previous writters had done. Now after Obsidian Age there is a lot to look forward to in that department. Not only the Shaman and Green Lantern, but also what might come of the kiss Bruce and Diana shared before their deaths? Will Faith stick around or go back to her life in black ops? Who is to say that black ops will let her stay with the JLA even if she wants too? Will Flash's mutilation cause him to be more timid in the face of danger now? These are great seeds planted throughout the story arc and I hope to see expanded on.
Art - 3: There were so many guest pencillers this month that it became distracting. While reading one can't help notice that each artist draws Superman completely diffrent and there was a lack of continuity between some artist's work. Green Lantern's costume was drawn incorrectly in a few sequences, and the JLA's return to life was less then spectacular.
Save for the last few pages, the art was disapointing, especially for such a bombastic conclusion.
Cover Art - 4: Although it doesn't technically happen in the issue it is an intresting cover. We see Arthur's fury and the impending doom of the JLA. Batman's pose it a little awkward and I wonder why Gamemnea in all her evil glory never made the cover during the whole story arch, but it doesn't hurt.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2003.